BEARS OF HAWORTH COTTAGE
Lexie is an avid collector of old toys especially composition dolls and Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. She has quite a large collection. She also collects old Flags mainly Australian, American and British. In fact she loves all things antique and unusual. It was this love of collecting old things that led her to attend a local auction in her home town of Nowra in 1985. It was there she purchased a wonderful old teddy bear (The Precious). She paid fifty dollars for him and took him home to live with her childhood bear, Ted and the other toys. A few years later she decided to attend a doll and bear show, the first of it's kind in Nowra and had her first encounter with the Artist Teddy Bear. She happened to describe her auction buy to one of the artists trading at the show who informed her that she thought he might be very valuable. This is where it all began. The bear was a rare 1907 Steiff (the Precious), in excellent condition and valued at around 2,500 dollars. All bear collectors will start crying now. Lexie dearly wanted a dishwasher and decided to sell the teddy. She often says with some humour that the dishwasher is now worth one dollar and the bear is worth about 15,000 dollars.
Two weeks after selling him the regret set in, though that regret has since given way to the realisation that if she hadn't sold him, the Bears of Haworth Cottage would never have eventuated. In complete ignorance of the difficulties involved she decided to try to recreate the bear, even though she had absolutely no sewing or craft experience . She went in to the local craft shop, bought some shaggy acrylic plush fur, a Butterick pattern for a teddy bear, called her Mum for help and with all the enthusiasm of a person obsessed the first bear was born. Of course it looked nothing like the magnificent old Steiff and so the quest continued. Her husband, John kept up the encouragement , even going so far as giving her one hundred dollars for the third bear she made. His name was Jack and he was created from her first very own pattern. In fact all the Haworth Cottage teddys since have evolved from that pattern. He also bought her a second hand sewing machine to try to speed up the process. Hand sewing large bears is an arduous and time consuming task. Lexie's workmates in the Navy were a great encouragement and this also helped to inspire her to keep going.
In November 1992 she attended her first bear show and almost sold out. Lexie says to try to cut a long story short the bearmaking fever had really taken over and sales increased after meeting Maree Millar and Carolyn Roberts from the Teddy Bear Shops in Hobart and Adelaide who began promoting and selling her work. Soon a very well known teddy collector and bear historian, David Worland noticed her work and encouraged her to keep going with the quest for the old Steiff look. His promotion and enthusiasm was a major factor in the success of Haworth Cottage Bears. Soon the orders were taking up so much of her time a decision needed to be made. Should she leave the job she loved to take up bearmaking as a full time occupation? This was a difficult decision but with John's support she took the big step that changed the direction of her life. That was over ten years ago and the Bears of Haworth Cottage is still going strong.
Lexie has won many awards and was again voted Artist of the Year at the 2002 annual bear affair at the Sydney town hall. It was here that Jan and I approached Lexie to allow us to represent her in our Teddy Cottage, upon learning that we have several of her bears in our private collection and that we shared a passion for unusual bears she agreed to supplying us.
It is a pleasure to show Lexies work and every bear she has made for us has quickly found a home with one of our collectors who like us cannot get enough of her sensational creations
Lexie and her husband John have now become friends and have been a valuable source of information for us as well as being instrumental in attracting other notable Artists to us.
We were proud to have Lexie "cut the ribbon" at the opening of our new cottage.